Gronkjaer's send-off for Ranieri

Chelsea 1 Leeds United 0

They paraded the silverware at half-time. Unfortunately it was Chelsea Ladies with the booty - a couple of trophies landed in their own resurgent season. Nothing less than a jug or two would have saved Claudio Ranieri's pancetta, however realistic that ever was; probably not very.

A win was necessary - as a farewell and a flourish - and it came from the unlikely, maligned, pre-Abramovich Jesper Gronkjaer, who is also thought to be on his way. It was the second year running that he had scored winning goals on the final day, although, unlike last time, Champions' League qualification did not depend upon it. That had already been secured in Chelsea's best finish since 1955. Leeds, like Chelsea, are potless but in more than one sense. Here they were, at times, shamefully clueless as well. Defiance was an after-thought.

Although nothing depended on the result, there was the deliciously cruel irony of today's nouveau riche (thanks to the wealth of one man) in contest with yesterday's (achieved disastrously on the never-never). There is no guarantee that either is ever going to be any more than temporary and there should be a salutary shudder for Chelsea's fans when they contemplate Leeds' plight.

The scale of that predicament was spelled out clearly by Leeds' stand-in manager, Kevin Blackwell. Afterwards he predicted that just eight of the club's present playing squad would remain. "Most of the lads will never go home on a Leeds United bus again," he said. Minibus next season, then. Many, it appeared, had reluctantly come in the first place to take part in this match.

None more so than Alan Smith, who brought a sorry end to his Leeds career with a disinterested performance which was heckled by travelling fans irked by his link to Manchester United. Not once did he make a challenge. Smith's response, his only act of the game, was a single finger gesture. "Manchester United and Leeds are not the best of friends," said Blackwell. "But I don't think he deserved any criticism." He did for this game.

It was his final one and it was also Ranieri's, his 199th in charge, and he tinkered one last time with Glen Johnson an interesting and successful participant as, effectively, a right-winger in a fluid formation that went from 4-5-1 to 4-3-3 and back again. Leeds, in contrast, simply battened down the hatches and hoped for the best. That included four changes with Jason Wilcox making his first appearance since August but doing little while the goalkeeper, Scott Carson - thrown in for the fire-sale asset Paul Robinson - had an outstanding, confidence-building match. Blackwell rarely looked like sharing the spoils despite a late free-kick from substitute Jermaine Pennant which thudded back off a post with Carlo Cudicini left bewildered.

Chelsea should have put the game out of sight before then and although they - astonishingly - achieved a 30th clean sheet in victory, they again failed to provide the killer football that Roman Abramovich has demanded. Where was the volley from the edge of the area to put the icing on a 5-0 trouncing? It was either flying into the stand or residing in cloud cuckoo land.

Leeds were on the back-foot throughout. Shots rained in and mainly over. First Joe Cole's right-footed drive looped off Lucas Radebe and was brilliantly tipped over, and then William Gallas wasted a free header. Eidur Gudjohnsen - as is his maddening habit - wastefully scooped crazily from Johnson's floated pass, headed over from Gronkjaer's precise cross and thumped a shot narrowly wide. Cole tried his luck from 25 yards but again it was tipped over.

It was only a matter of time and when Johnson broke down the right Gronkjaer burst to the far post and dived low to head in for his third goal in three games. Confidence is an elusive, wonderful thing and the Dane combined forcefully with Wayne Bridge thereafter.

Half-time did not puncture the pressure. Cole, with exquisite footwork, provided for Frank Lampard whose header just cleared the crossbar. It was a show-pony trick by Cole but, for once, with a thoroughbred's delivery. Unlike his own attempted finish moments later when he collected Johnson's short pass only to curl the ball over. Carson spilled Lampard's shot and held on to Gudjohnsen's drive before Cole skied a last opportunity provided by the energy of Gronkjaer.

No more goals would come. Ranieri was denied that emphatic win. The Italian himself provided some flair - withdrawing John Terry, allowing him a standing ovation and handing the captain's armband to Lampard before he was also taken off for the crowd's appreciation. A touch of class from a class act. It would be nice if, as he hopes, it is au revoir rather than goodbye.

Chelsea 1 Leeds United 0
Gronkjaer 20

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 41,276

house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living